Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, September 3, 2018
Today is Labor Day. The holiday was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.
I am not going to touch the politics of unions. Rather what I am going to explore today is the dialectic between the word “labor” and the word “effort.” The other night I was watching “Shark Tank” to see what goofball product was trying to get funded (something to clean your hands using mud), and the commercial came on showing Mark, Lorie and Daymond at the White House with then-President Barack Obama promoting entrepreneurship. It was a strong statement, but at the same time I sensed a bit of a con. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. It has become a profession like becoming a doctor, but there is no formal education required, as opposed to learning how to perform brain surgery without leaving the guy a vegetable.
So I come to the word effort. I understand labor. I spent a summer building a deck on a hillside, and every piece of lumber was schlepped up a steep hill. I think about effort as a continuous event, not a finite one. Effort is not necessarily manual. Rather in my mind, it resonates with the word “will,” as in the effort to create change, to create a better place, product or ultimately a better world.
Effort precedes labor. A body at rest tends to stay at rest (Newton’s first law of motion). There is always friction — first effort, then labor.
A very long time ago, I spoke to the San Diego Venture Group, and at the beginning of the talk, I threw T-shirts out into the audience (I did not have a San Diego Padres air cannon back then) and the shirts said “relentless” on the front and “pursuit” on the back.
I believe in that kind of stuff. Here are a couple of quotes that might enlighten on this holiday.
“Individual commitment to a group effort,” Vince Lombardi when asked how to win football games.
“A continuous effort — not strength, or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential,” Winston Churchill.
Enough said. After all, it is Labor Day, so I am going to only do half labor and shorten the column. Be safe and remember that effort is not directly correlated to results — but it definitely helps.
Rule No. 575: “Tote that barge, lift that bale.” — Oscar Hammerstein